Texas Rangers: Is this really a contending baseball team?

Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Joey Gallo #13 of the Texas Rangers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

As the baseball season transitions into the summer months, the Texas Rangers curiously continue to outperform preseason prognostications.

There’s something of a perfect storm brewing for the 2019 Texas Rangers. As of today, they’re 30-27, which is good for second in the American League West. While no one really expects them to catch the Houston Astros for the division title this year, their record is good for the second wild card spot in the American League.

Next, while their team ERA (4.97) is twenty-sixth out of thirty MLB teams, they have improved two spots over the last couple of weeks. Staff ace Mike Minor continues to show consistency. The next arm in the rotation, Lance Lynn, boasts a 7-4 record this season in spite of his 4.50 ERA. Better yet, Adrian Sampson posted eleven strikeouts and seven innings pitched–both career bests–in yesterday’s series-winning finale against the Kansas City Royals.

Thirdly, the schedule has set up very well for the Rangers. They’re probably just getting a little fat on bad teams, but they still  have to go out and beat who’s on their schedule.

This year’s American League features only four teams that could be considered really good: the Astros, Yankees, Twins, and Rays. The rest of baseball’s junior circuit consists of a big middle of six teams battling for that second wild card. The Rangers–at least for the moment–are at the top of that big middle.

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And finally, they’re rolling out an elite offense this year. They’re only thirteenth in team batting average, but in terms of run production, they’re tied for second in all of baseball, trailing only the Minnesota Twins. In fact, it is this offensive output that has covered up some of their warts. But all in all, if anyone predicted the Rangers in wild card contention over a third of the way into the season, please step forward and claim your winnings.

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Of course, this begs the question: are they any good? Well, at this moment, the answer is yes. The lineup is providing run support. The starting pitching is surging. Take yesterday’s effort from Sampson into account. Sure, he went seven strong innings and struck out eleven. But he also pitched his way out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the top of the 5th. Watching him settle down and grind was a thing of beauty. Moreover, after a sobering four-game sweep at the hands of the Astros back in early May, the Rangers are 13-6. They’ve gone from 17-21 to their current mark of 30-27, and have won five of their last six series. That’s what good teams do.

But this does nothing to address the only negative story to come from the weekend series win. Outfielder Joey Gallo left the game in the middle of an at bat on Saturday with what was later diagnosed as an oblique strain. The club placed him on the 10-day injured list yesterday, and his timetable for return is uncertain. Gallo’s absence from the lineup will be huge, as he is in the middle of a true breakout season. One need look no further than his absolute bomb of a grand slam on Friday night to see his impact on this team’s offensive output.

Next. Can the Texas Rangers afford to keep Joey Gallo?. dark

The bottom line is that these Rangers have thus far been a pleasant surprise. The crucible of summer baseball in Texas is about to set in, though. We’ve seen some teams wilt in the unrelenting and oppressive heat. So if the schedule doesn’t ultimately get them, then perhaps the weather will. But in the meantime, enjoy this for what it is. The Texas Rangers, under their current set of circumstances, are a contending baseball team.

  • Published on 06/03/2019 at 11:00 AM
  • Last updated at 06/03/2019 at 08:05 AM